Top 10 Retro Games We Want on iPad
The simple interface on the iPad has seen a resurgence in games that use very old school concepts, and with it the re-visitation of some classic games. iPad owners are currently enjoying perfect adaptations of Carmageddon, Doom, Sonic CD and Sim City 2000 and the question that must be asked is thus: why stop there? The iPad would be a perfect platform to revisit these awesome titles.
#10 Theme Hospital
Theme Park was a stand out smash hit for now sadly defunct developers Bullfrog, adding a bit of colour to the Sim City concept by giving players an amusement park to design. It has led to a cottage industry of sequels and knock-offs to this day, some already in the App Store. Sadly many of them have adopted the bullshit ‘Free-unless-you-cough-up-hundreds-of-bucks-for-the-full-content’ model.
For my money the superior product was the lesser known Theme Hospital. Darker in tone in spite of the cartoon graphics it pitted players as the manager of a new hospital. GP clinics, wards and pharmacies are the backbone but there’s plenty more to deal with. Bouts of vomiting can set off dozens of other patients crammed in the waiting rooms, death stalks the hallways looking for customers, epidemics put your skills to the test, rats get dealt with by the player acting quickly with a shotgun. The conditions include Slack Tongue (needing a guillotine to remove), bloated head (needing a pin) and hairyitis. It’s a bizarre little management sim that many would welcome.
There’s plenty of fun boardgames and chess games available to iPad owners looking to compete against real people over the net. Battlechess is an essential addition to the existing library. This is why.
#8 Capcom Beat-Em-Up Collection
Capcom have been pretty good to convert their fighting games to the App Store, especially the legendary Marvel vs Capcom 2, even if the on-screen control are clumsy. What they’re neglecting is their catalogue of classic side-scrolliing beast-em-ups that made the hours in the arcade fly by. Final Fight has already graced the iphone but for some reason has not been granted the HD treatment on the larger screen.
While they’re working on that adaptation they also have to give us AvP, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Armoured Warriors, Knights of the Round, The Punisher and whatever else they’ve been holding back on.
#7 X-Wing/Tie Fighter
There’s always been a fringe audience in gaming for flight simulators. Mostly they’re aimed at people who are more interested in recreating the experience of piloting an expensive piece of military hardware then actually gaming. One series did jump the border and become popular with a wider audience. The first game, X-Wing, was certainly fun but the sequel, Tie Fighter, made it great. Becoming a pilot working for the Empire you set out on missions against the rebels. It was well designed, immersive and buckets of fun with the missions being linked by an in-depth plot that sees you infiltrating the Emperor’s inner circle.
With the cockpit controls assigned to the touch screen and tilt controls for the steering this could be perfectly recreated on the iPad. Good luck taking out the Falcon though – that bastard Solo is quick to fire up the light speed and do a runner the moment to get a lock on him.
#6 Cannon Fodder
Remember this little gem? You get a little squadron of soldier who are dropped into an open area spotted with enemy troops. With a top down view the player would control them indirectly using one mouse button and fire with the other. Reflexes are the order of the day with enemies lunging at you from the shadows and blind corners with guns blazing. In between missions a new batch of recruits arrive at the enlistment office, giving you a reserve of troops to get you through the next mission, giving you quick reply on tough missions.
Varied environments and a blending of bloody violence and cartoon humour turned Canon Fodder into a smash hit, but apart from a carbon copy sequel it didn’t last the difference. Nonetheless it had cross-over appeal that is perfectly suited to the handheld market.
#5 The Chaos Engine
If there’s any game on this list that you’re unfamiliar with it’ll be The Chaos Engine. Released on the Amiga at the tail end of the machines run it was a top down shooter that could’ve blended in pretty easily with the market of the time if it wasn’t for a few aspects. Unusually for the time the game featured an AI team mate for those playing solo, it had rich and unique labyrinth environments and an engaging story about a scientist unleashing his ‘Chaos Engine’, a device that randomly mutants living things in its range.
None of that may seem that special, but here’s the real selling point: steampunk. Long, long before the art style was widely known The Chaos Engine was steampunk is spades. From the selection of pipe smoking characters to the steam powered automatic weapons they packed, it was stylish decades ahead of it’s time.
Syndicate has recently seen itself revisited in the first person shooter market (at least, it has outside of Australia. Bah.) but this is a far stretch from its original incarnation as a top down sandbox game. Players had indirect control over a team of cyborg assassins and each mission takes place in a city area sandbox complete with pedestrians, traffic, trains, patrols and timed events.
For the time is was highly ambitious and ahead of its time even if it didn’t quite manage it perfectly (the fixed perspective was a real sticking point). Unsurprisingly it was an early effort of Peter Molyneux. With a quick spit and polish it could be a nifty actioner for people on the move.
#3 The Lucasarts Point ‘n’ Click Library
Like with any mouse controlled game, these will make an easy transition to the touch screen. Now let’s rattle off some of the classic titles that could be part of this collection: The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge, Sam and Max Hit the Road, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, Grim Fandango, The Dig, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Zac McKraken and the Alien Mindbenders, Loom, The Curse of Monkey Island.
Seriously, package them together and name your price.
#2 Lemmings & Lemmings 2: The Tribes
If you were a gamer twenty years ago then these green haired rascals crossed your path at least once. Lemmings was practically a phenomenon of a puzzle game, not unlike Angry Birds but actually requiring a bit of the grey matter to finish. The game spawned many sequels but the attempts to move in 3D saw the popularity of the series plummet. Much like Angry Birds it also released regular holiday themed variations.
The basic premise of the game was that a group of rodenty creature (supposedly lemmings) walk in a straight line and turning around when they hit a wall. They’d walk straight into pits, long drops or grotesque traps that lay in their path. As the player you have indirect control, assigning a skill such as climbing or digging to particular lemmings. Perfect for the touch screen.
#1 – X-Com: Enemy Unknown and Terror From the Deep
With the nostalgic market for this title of its direct sequel still going strong with the original title still readily available in retail almost twenty years after the original release and the recent remake taking the top spot on Steam from Borderlands 2. For those still unfamiliar with the premise: aliens have started invading Earth and are making short work of any nation’s army that fight back. You’re put in charge of X-Com, a global initiative that combines resources from countries around the world to organise the the defense of the Earth. The gameplay exists in two formats – managing your base along with research and development, troops, finances and monitoring the radars for UFO activities before dispatching jets to tackle them and confronting the aliens on the ground to fight them off, capture them where possible and salvage their technology.
The two modes were perfectly balanced with the greater mystery of the aliens being uncovered through autopsies and interrogations, finding their motive and striking back. When on the ground the combat is a tough and challenging form of turn based gameplay. At the beginning of the game you are easily out-matched and outgunned by the aliens and it’s only through adopting their technology to use against them. The various extraterrestrial creatures bring different abilities to face off against and all of their designs are imaginative. The touch screen controls of the iPad are perfect for the game as it was based on a simple point and click interface – no other changes need to be made to this perfect game.